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The rules for grappling and shoving clearly apply to creatures:

Grappling. When you want to grab a creature or wrestle with it, you can use the Attack action to make a special melee attack, a grapple. If you’re able to make multiple attacks with the Attack action, this attack replaces one of them.

Shoving a creature. Using the Attack action, you can make a special melee attack to shove a creature, either to knock it prone or push it away from you. If you’re able to make multiple attacks with the Attack action, this attack replaces one of them.

However, in 5e there are a number of entities that are not technically creatures:

Is it possible to shove or grapple these entities?

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3 Answers 3

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No, grapple and shoving attacks can be performed on creatures only.

You quoted the relevant rules: both attacks require that the target be a creature.

In particular, about your listed entities:

  • Bigby's hand is an object, not a creature: it can grapple because its description says so, under the Specific beats general principle.
  • Guardian of Faith is neither a creature, nor an object. It does not provide any stats block, nor point to a Monster stats block. Moreover, the spell description does not provide any partial stats (AC, HP, attacks) that might suggest a DM ruling in that sense.
  • Spiritual Weapon is...a weapon. You can check the difference with a Flying Sword, which is technically a creature and hence can be grappled and/or shoved.
  • Unseen Servant is not a creature either.

A DM has always the final word.

The above considerations are based on the direct application of the rules. A DM has the final decision, they may allow these kinds of attack even for objects and for other entities (such as an Unseen servant).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Dec 23, 2021 at 19:30
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My answer would be "No, but..."

No, the "using your attack action to grapple/shove instead" rules would not apply, since it's not a creature - you quoted the relevant rules already.

However, the list of actions one can take in combat is non-exhaustive, as per "Actions in Combat" in the SRD:

"When you describe an action not detailed elsewhere in the rules, the GM tells you whether that action is possible and what kind of roll you need to make, if any, to determine success or failure."

Far be it from me to discourage the attempt - the player can absolutely try to grab onto something conjured by a spell.

From there, we'd have to decide what happens next. I'd rule as follows, based on each spell's description:

Bigby's Hand is a relatively simple decision. It's a visible, solid object with its own Strength score, so an attempt to move or hold it in place would be a contested Strength check between the person trying to move/grab it and the Hand - same as a Grapple/Shove attempt against a creature.

Guardian of Faith, there's nothing there to grab onto or push - it doesn't have an AC, hit points, or any physical ability scores, just an area around itself where Radiant damage happens. You could try to grab or push it, but it'd have no more effect than trying to grab onto a Silent Image.

Spiritual Weapon doesn't have its own stats, but it deals Force damage which indicates it's tangible - so I as a DM would rule it's a contested check of Strength versus the caster's Spellcasting Ability Modifier, given the attacks it makes are also based on the caster's Spell Attack Modifier.

Unseen Servant is an invisible, shapeless force - but it does have an AC, a hit point, and a Strength score. You can try to grab onto it or shove it directly, but given it's invisible and amorphous, it'd be harder than its paltry Strength indicates on account of being hard to actually grab hold of. Probably a Strength check at disadvantage, versus a flat roll on the part of the Servant (AC10 = ±0 Dex modifier).
Ripping an object from its grasp would be much easier, given neither its invisibility nor its formlessness would help it there - straight contested Strength check, it has the stat for a reason.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I tried to root the answer in actual rules as much as possible. The only applicable rule I could find for the actual action is the section on "Actions in Combat", which I've edited my post to quote - "When you describe an action not detailed elsewhere in the rules..." For each individual spell, I've made the decisions based on the spells' descriptions - any wording or effects that indicate whether the effect is tangible, and any stats to work off of to determine the appropriate roll-contest. This is now also in the original answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – John
    Sep 4, 2021 at 19:08
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Some yes, and some no.

Bigby's Hand and Unseen Servant are tangible -- they have AC, hp, Strength -- so I would allow a creature to grapple/shove those.

OTOH, Guardian of Faith is stated to be spectral, and has no physical stats, so I would say "no" to that one.

Spiritual Weapon is also stated to be spectral and has no physical stats, but also clearly has a physical effect. I'd be inclined to say "no" to that one also, but might let a player try to make a case for it.

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